ST. LOUIS – The wife and stepmother of two men accused of torturing and killing a 20-year-old Ohio man was charged Thursday with first-degree murder in the case, and prosecutors said she admitted she told her husband how to suffocate the man.
Angela Harvey, 34, told investigators she was among those who held James William Boyd McNeely at gunpoint in the basement of her Laddonia home on Dec. 17, and that she took part in beating him, investigators said in a probable cause statement. She said she told her husband, 38-year-old Chester Harvey Jr., that he should kill McNeely by suffocating him, then watched as he wrapped a black trash bag around the victim's face until he died, they said.
Prosecutors are seeking first-degree murder and other charges against Chester Harvey and his 19-year-old son, Chad Harvey. The two were jailed on charges of kidnapping and abandonment of a corpse after McNeely's body was found in the trailer of Chester Harvey's semi.
Three other men — Darrill Lynn, 45, of Farber, Jackie Moss, 44, and Robert Allen, 52, both of Vandalia — are charged with kidnapping in the case. Allen is in the Audrain County Jail on a $50,000 bond. Lynn and Moss are out of jail after posting bond, county sheriff's Capt. James Shrader said.
According to court records, Angela Harvey spoke to state highway patrol investigators Wednesday and her account of the killing closely matched those of her husband and stepson.
She said she, her husband and Lynn decided to remove McNeely from her home Dec. 16 and to ensure "he couldn't come back and harm them."
Audrain County Prosecutor Jacob Shellabarger declined to elaborate on the case Thursday, including whether McNeely posed a threat to the Harveys or what Angela McNeely may have meant by her remark. Prosecutors also have not commented about a possible motive for the killing or said where in Ohio McNeely was from and how he knew the defendants.
Highway patrol investigators said Lynn, Moss and Allen took McNeely to a home in Farber but that Chester and Chad Harvey brought McNeely back to Chester and Angela Harvey's home the following day, placed him on a basement mattress and bound his hands and feet.
Angela Harvey said she kicked McNeely and pointed a loaded gun at him, saying, "Just give me one reason to shoot you," investigators reported she said.
According to probable cause statements, both father and son said that while Chester Harvey held the bag over McNeely's head, Chad Harvey and others strangled him with wire.
An autopsy confirmed McNeely died by asphyxia.
Angela Harvey said she later directed her husband and others to wrap the body in a tarp to minimize evidence.
The Harveys were being held in the Audrain County jail without bond.
Neither Shrader nor Shellabarger would say whether anyone else would be charged in the case.
In a court filing last week, authorities said a tipster told investigators that Chester Harvey killed a man, later identified as McNeely, whom he picked up in his truck somewhere in California. The tipster said Chester Harvey was keeping the man's body in his rig's trailer while he figured out how to dispose of it. The tip led investigators to the body.
Angela and Chad Harvey have not retained attorneys.
Chester Harvey's attorney, public defender Justin Carver, did not immediately return a call seeking comment. Shellabarger didn't know whether Allen, Moss and Lynn had attorneys, and there were no listed telephone numbers for any of the men. Authorities did not grant a request to interview Allen in jail.
In addition to the charges pertaining to McNeely's slaying, Chester Harvey has been charged with one count of kidnapping after prosecutors say he held his wife and several children hostage, including a 9-year-old son who is on dialysis and in a wheelchair.